Analysis of urinary human growth hormone (hGH) using hydrogel nanoparticles and isoform differential immunoassays after short recombinant hGH treatment: preliminary results

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2013 Nov;85:194-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2013.07.028. Epub 2013 Aug 1.


Successful application clinical-grade human growth hormone (hGH) immunoassays to the discovery of illegal doping cases has been rare. Indeed, the preferred biological matrix in doping control is urine, where the estimated baseline concentration of hGH falls well below the linear range and sensitivity threshold of all commercially available immunoassays, including hGH isoform differential immunoassays which can discriminate pituitary endogenous hGH from recombinant hGH. We employed hydrogel nanoparticles as a pre-processing step that concentrate urinary hGH into the linear range of isoform differential immunoassays. We explored the characteristics of immunoassays in urine spiked with both phGH or rhGH, after pre-treatment with the nanoparticles. Subsequently, pre-treatment was applied to urine obtained from 3 healthy volunteers administered during three days with daily subcutaneous injections of 0.026 mg/kg/day rhGH, Genotonorm(®). Linearity between both rhGH and phGH concentrations in urine measured by a chemoluminescent assay (Immulite) and in the particle eluate was evident for differential immunoassays (R square higher than 0.999). In case of treated individuals the recombinant/pituitary concentration ratios remained above the established World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) criterion for hGH misuse up to 24h after the last administration dose, using both assays for volunteer 1 and 2 while in case of volunteer 3 results were inconclusive. The use of nanoparticles appears to open the possibility of assessing rhGH misuse in urine.

Keywords: AAF; Differential immunoassays; Hydrogel nanoparticles; Pit; Pituitary growth hormone; Rec; Recombinant growth hormone; adverse analytical finding; hGH; human growth hormone; pituitary; recombinant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Human Growth Hormone / urine*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate / chemistry
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Male
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate